Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Magic Yarn"

For once, a break from painting!  In art class we recently spent two evenings in small groups making a stop-motion video. My group consisted of just three of us, and we were all relieved to find that we easily worked well together.  The assignment was "Chaos To Order," to see how adding the component of time affects a 2-dimensional work of art.

It took approximately 7 hours for the three of us to make this video. It is a total of about 515 images!  Special thanks to Cydney and Jaque.  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Memory (Game)

Over the weekend, my friend Ambra was in town, visiting from New York!  She appears on this blog from time to time, and in fact you can see our last art collaboration (in 2009) here.  This time, we were inspired by these stamps (I bought them long ago and love them so much they are forever displayed in my studio):

So we thought we would make a set of Memory cards for her daughter Sonia, who is six!  Here is us just finishing the base for the front of the cards. 

Then we flipped it over to make a pretty pattern on the back, one that wouldn't give away what was on the other side. This took a lot of time, but with two people working on it over the course of an afternoon (and with plenty of talk to keep us entertained), it wasn't as tedious as it could have been.

Once it was dry, we glossed it and cut it up into small squares...

... and painted fruit designs on them, two by two.  We even asked Sonia (via Skype) for suggestions on which fruits to paint. That is how we got a tomato and an avocado in there.

Wanna play a round with us?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


If you take an art class, at some point you have to turn in your body of work, which is called your portfolio. Of course, to keep it all together, you have to put it in a large folder of some type, also called a portfolio!  This second type of portfolio is something you can buy at the store for too much money and it is usually not very interesting-looking.  Or you can buy the components and make one that is MUCH more attractive!  Thank goodness for sewing skills!!

I bought foam core at the art store, big enough to contain my giant multi-media paper. Then I used three types of fabric for the cover: the green/red stuff is outdoor decorative fabric (like for patio furniture). The black on the external side is canvas. The black on the inside is flannel, which makes for a luxurious, professional backdrop for the artwork one then sees within!

Over a year ago, I ordered $100 worth of black webbing from a wholesaler (for bike bands) and so have enough to last me a lifetime.  There is a tie on each of three sides, made of thinner, non-slippery black webbing.

You'll notice in photo 1 that there are two black bits sticking up on the top. If you look closely, you'll see there are D-rings attached to those. I intend to make a shoulder strap for this to make it easier to carry, but before I can do that I have to go back to Joann Fabrics (for the 27th time in three weeks) to buy clips.

Most of it is machine-stitched to create two big pockets to slide the foam core into, then I used hot glue and some hand-stitching to close up the one long edge.

I was thinking of creating a tutorial for this. What do you think?  I also thought I could make them and sell them on Etsy, but shipping might be troublesome. Opinions?

I think my portfolio will be the most attractive one on the table when we turn our portfolios in next week!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gridded Self-Portrait

This was a project that I put at least 20 hours into and I still could put in another 20 hours to finish! We had to match skin tone square by square by square--a study in color. Each square is one inch.

If you squint, you'll see it looks like a photograph of me!

While I learned a LOT about color mixing, and how there is not one part of a "white" person that is actually white (even teeth and the whites of eyes), I will not be finishing this project. It is agonizingly tedious.  I think I've learned all I can.  

One lesson: my hair color has more brown in it then red! 

I'll admit, it does make for a cool end-result. If you can make it to the end!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What It Looks Like To Take A College-Level Art Class

Before I started taking an art class, I always wondered what it looks like to take an art class. I never even took an art class in high school (too busy with band and choir, I guess!).  Well, if you're curious, here's what it looks like. This is our classroom. (Remember you can click the photo to make it bigger.)

The wooden things are slats to hold your paintings, board, and paper. In the back are very small lockers that we get to use for the semester. Yes, there is a big poster of Elvis on the door back there. I think that is one of the department's professor's offices.  There are about 20 easels and black chairs and small square tables strewn around the room.  Every day it is a tidy mess.

You'd think with only 16 people in the class and six hours a week of guaranteed time together, we'd all be BFFs by now. Well, not so much. The minute you get there, you take 10 minutes to set up, gesso your paper, make your palette and fill your water container. The teacher talks for 15-20 minutes and then we all get to work. If you're a people person (like me) then you take the occasional break to see what someone else is doing or ask for feedback.  So I am glad to say I feel camaraderie with a majority of my fellow classmates.  That doesn't mean I'm talking all studio-time long. Time management in class has been a big challenge for me. I am always taking things home to finish them!  Here was how my station looked one day a couple weeks ago.

Every once in awhile, we have a critique day.  For the assignment below, we had to create three color palettes, then make three paintings of the same exact thing using the three palettes.  It was a pretty interesting assignment. I'll show you mine in more detail a bit later, but you can see it here, the one on the very bottom. We all hang our pieces up and spend two hours talking about each person's piece.

This is my teacher having a closer look!

Here we all are, critiquing.  For the most part, it is very helpful to hear what other's have to say, and it is almost always positive.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Painting Painting Painting!

It's been a busy October with painting for class and a neighborhood art show and studio tour and a trip to the east coast.  I thought I'd finally share some photos of some of the paintings I've made for our class.

My first still life!

Painting "from life" is definitely a new challenge, especially as it had to be in black and white, which meant having to understand it in values. Thank goodness for the monochrome setting on my digital camera! We're working on another one in class right now and it is in color. That throws a whole nother element into the mix which makes it difficult in a different way.

Here is a value chart, a way for us to understand the colors we have in our tubes and practice gradient and tint scales (when you go from white to the color straight out of the tube).  Don't look at the color version yet... can you tell which color is which on the black and white version?  
When you look at the color version, are you surprised?

Here is an exercise we did to learn about high contrast and low contrast. High contrast is when you use all the various grays between black and white on a value scale, including black and white. Here it is in three stages of progress, the third one being "complete":

Low contrast is when you only use 4 grays on the value scale. I used the same photo to paint from, just a different section.  


This one is my favorite of everything we've made so far. The assignment was to take an interestingly-shaped object and paint it several times in a unique and interesting composition.  I found an image of a perfume bottle that I liked the shape and color of.  What you can't see here is that three of the bottles are glazed with gloss medium to look even more like glass.  
The best part?  If you flip it 180 degrees, they all look like hot air balloons, and the one at the top turns into a perfume bottle!  So great!!!!!  Sure wish you could see it in person.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Neighborhood Art Show & Studio Tour, October 4-5

Come one, come all!  

This coming weekend is the inaugural Vine Arts Art Show & Studio Tour!  

See the new art happenings going on in our neighborhood, but especially at Parsley Art Studio!

Please email me if you'd like me to forward you a copy of this flyer for printing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vine Arts - A NW Fort Collins Artist's Group

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Vine Arts, a new art group in Fort Collins!  

I and several of my neighbors have started getting together every other month to talk about all things art and be in community with one another.  Let me introduce you to a few:

Jane Basile and Chris Bates are the two who started this idea up with me! Here is a sample of their art and their websites are below:

Chris Bates -
Jane Basile -

Other artists who have so enthusiastically joined in include:

Heather Bartmann

Cindy O'Neill

Mary Lu Lovett

Shelby Robinson

Steve Allen

Stephen Collins

Randy Yeates

Susan Ort

So far, there are 19 of us, and you are welcome to join us if you consider yourself as from the NW corner of town.  All skills/abilities/aspirations are welcome to join in.  Please 'Like' us on Facebook and come out to First Friday on October 4th or our Studio Tour on October 5th to meet us in person.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fall Art Class

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I've been taking art history classes for the last 8 months. Well finally I get to take a studio course!  I am beyond thrilled! This semester I'm in a class every Monday and Wednesday evening called 2D Visual Fundamentals. Almost all assignments are done with acrylic paint. We'll talk about color, line, design, light, composition, and techniques. Plus we'll get to start putting the art history into the context of making art. So great!

Here is my work from our first studio day:

In order of how I painted them:
1. Arshile Gorky, 2. Richard Earlom,
3. Egon Schiele, 4. Terry Frost,
5. Francisco Goya, 6. Chin Nung.

The assignment focused on 'line.'  We each brought an art book from the library that had pictures with good lines.  We mixed two colors of paint to get black (I learned that burnt umber and cerulean blue mixed together = black!).  We cropped each picture with a frame and then were instructed to try to 'emulate the lines.'  These 6x6 little babies each took 15-30 minutes each. I learned that if I want to get out of class on time (8:00pm, when I am super tired), I've really got to manage my time, and fit in time for eating a cold dinner too.

My two favorites are these below:

Stay tuned for more 'masterpieces' by Heather Matthews this semester. (Ha!)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

NEW! Fort Collins Creative Community Center

Words cannot express the joy I felt last night while attending a local art show. I stood all smiles there even when I wasn't interacting with people! Let me tell you why.

In our first week of my art history class (less than two weeks ago, although it sure feels like more), we learned about the Salon exhibitions at what is now the Louvre, hosted by the new art association of the day called the French Academy.  If you've been to the Louvre, you know it doesn't really look like this when they display their pictures now, but apparently back in the day, this is how it was, stacked to the ceiling:

Have a look at this, the first show ever to be held in the new Fort Collins Community Creative Center!

The event was a result of what they called an 'open-hang' show.  Between 12-4pm that very day, they invited any artist to come with hammer and nails to hang a piece. The one rule was that it had to be 6 inches from anyone else's.  I got there at 12:45 and already, people were having to stack their pieces.  By 7:00pm, when I arrived, this is how it looked.  It was so so cool!  The organizers did nothing to re-arrange or change how the artists themselves hung (or displayed) their own work.

Can you spot my tiny piece on this wall? 

 (Hint: don't look for a frame)

I'll take a better picture of it when I go again sometime in the next month, but here it is:

Here I am  with Barbara Gilhooly, who is probably my favorite artist in Fort Collins. I visited her studio last year during the Studio Tour and have been inspired ever since--she is really something!  Check out her work here.  Last night she did me the great honor of buying my piece!!!!!

I actually want to put about a thousand exclamation marks right there. 

I loved the magic of the way the show turned out, the collaboration and community, feeling like I was in some way connected to the French Academy's annual salon that happened for so many years, and connecting with the artists I admire.  Of course, Barbara made the night complete with making me feel truly legitimate amongst my peers.